Catharine met Andrew while the pair shared a house with nine other young professionals in Moseley, a suburb of Birmingham, England. But it was not love at first sight. 

“Andrew was the last of the 10 people to move in,” shares Catharine. “By this time I was really bored of the process and fed up with having to get to know new people. So I really didn’t try very hard and barely even spoke to him!” But after several nights out and a few house parties, they finally connected. They dated, trying to unsuccessfully hide their romance from the housemates, before moving to London together.

After five years, Catharine says she had pretty much given up on Andrew ever proposing. “We traveled to some amazing places, with plenty of opportunity for incredible proposals,” she says, “So when we took a totally normal trip back to Ireland in October 2018 to visit his parents, I thought nothing of it.” Andrew took her to his favorite place, Kinnagoe Bay, and popped the question with an engagement ring he designed himself.

The couple decided to get married in Catharine’s California hometown over the coming Easter holiday. With less than six months to plan, they originally agreed on a more intimate wedding. “We realized how many people wanted to celebrate our union with us,” says Catharine. “Our guest list swelled to 60 and caused a British and Irish invasion into the small town of Nevada City.”

With so many out-of-town guests, they invited everyone to a wine reception at the Nevada City Winery to help break the ice. “It took away the stress of our parents and friends meeting each other for the first time and the next day at the wedding everyone was already old friends,” shares the bride.

A warm spring day greeted the couple at The Stone House on their wedding day. The late afternoon ceremony included passages from John Muir, an Irish blessing and a sand ceremony. “Andrew collected sand from Kinnagoe Bay, and I collected sand from Santa Cruz where I went to university,” explains Catharine. “We poured our individual vessels of sand into a new bottle engraved with ‘better together.’” As a wedding gift, Catharine gave Andrew an oil painting of Kinnagoe Bay by local Irish artist Tanya McColgan.

The ceremony was followed by a big family-style dinner, full of touching speeches, laughter and dancing. One such touching speech came from the bride’s father, “My dad gave a lovely speech, which was planned. He talked, with humor, about what it was like going through all the stages of raising me. He ended with a great line, ‘As far as I can tell, Andrew and I have three things in common: Drinking, Gambling and Redheads.’ And the whole place was crying with laugher. But what wasn’t planned and ended up being a beautiful surprise was when Andrew’s dad also gave a speech! It was really special hearing his perspective on when Andrew and I started to get together and how they knew, before Andrew did, that I was the one for him.”

The groom reflects back on the evening, “The most fun was the celebrations into the night. That memory is less clear though, which might have something to do with those California IPAs.” 

—Darren Elms